...MARCH - 12


So far nothing...... and several days later, still nothing....... therefore.... here's something to bore everyone's pants off: an item I'll call -

Encountering GREAT Literature: >>> ...(see also ▼below▼)





It's about choices. And choices are about what's on the table in front of you... and what's within reach on that table but beyond sight... because what's within sight but out of reach - if you can so assess the truth of it - is fairly crucial.... assuming, that is, you take any of it seriously. But if you don't take it seriously you could be landed with a lifetime of abject enslavement.... and being so adaptable, you may not even realise it.

Look at some of the obviously unpleasant jobs people do, yet claim to be contented with. For me, a born idler, this includes most jobs - though certainly not all. This is because I've learned how to enjoy my time (or maybe I never unlearned it for reasons explored in the next paragraph but one). And the more time I have to myself the happier I am. Most people seem to prefer to sell their time - even millionaires. If you're on the breadline this might make sense, but otherwise it could be because you've adapted without realising it. Like Pavlov's dog, you've been programmed, trained, conditioned. You've been 'set-up'. Right from being a little kid in infant school, or maybe even before then, you've been unwittingly manoeuvred into line, into seeing only one OPTION for your future: TO WORK... TO BE A CORPORATE SLAVE, A DOGSBODY!

This isn't how it looks on the surface, of course, otherwise you'd react against it. The scenario is painted in all kinds of colours and shades, adorned with every possible embellishment to present not merely a future that's palatable, but one that's positively attractive, exciting, exhilarating, awesome even....

Some of us, however, catch an early glimpse of what we believe is the TRUTH: some little event or chance perception that exposes a chink in the canvas. At first we wonder: did I see what I thought I saw, or was it a figment? But once alerted, we go prepared... eyes skinned - for a while, at least. Inevitably, now, other chinks appear; they're hard to miss in a world spread with ambiguities, conflicting requirements, competing egos... And soon, some of these flaws will more resemble a gash. At first alarmed, we point these out to people around us, our peers, at least. They're at a total loss. What the hell are we talking about? Their perception, their focus, fails to see anything. It makes no difference how obvious or how large a gash looks to you, most people will be blind to it. It's outside their range of perception, doesn't relate to their experience. As the years pass the gashes widen and increase, so that while your peers regard themselves to be living in a finely decorated, optimally designed and well maintained 'arena', for you it's a squalid, dilapidated labyrinth that survival-wise resembles a jungle.

Favoured circumstances might alert you to an escape route: a talented music-lover, say, who perchance is NOT brushed aside, like so many in the crowd... or one who spontaneously shines in some other approved way. For most of us... where else are the corporate elite to get their factory/office fodder? The crucial issue is, it seems to me: are you aware of this?

Above all - whether or not you can stand back and observe your predicament objectively - you might ask, as an acquaintance of mine recently did : DOES IT MATTER? In other words: if you've adapted well and feel contented, then what's the problem?

This is a profound question. But YES - it does matter, at least it does to me. What other people opt for is their choice - free or not. Is mine free, I wonder? These days maybe, but at one time it wasn't. And even now I'm under certain constraints and subject to propaganda/ conditioning... I know.... but where does one stop? Which doesn't mean we shouldn't, each of us, address the issue for ourselves - and in depth. For after all, it's about your life - agonisingly short that it is - and how you spend it. And what can be more important than that?

--------------------- // --------------------




A week or so ago the BBC transmitted an arts programme in which Andrew Marr went around with David Hockney. Some years - decades - ago I was staying with a friend up near Halifax. One day we wandered along a nearby canal towpath to Saltaire. A huge old Mill stood by the canal there. It had been superbly renovated and was open as a free art gallery. Inside was a fabulous colossal space, full of Hockney's giant paintings - as well as works by other local artists. This was a show like no other, and I remember it well.

So I watched the programme 'The Art of Seeing' and will do so again, and probably again after that... and maybe even again because it was one of the most uplifting and impressive arts programmes I've seen - Hockney is definitely a genius. The title was apt, and Hockney demonstrated over and over how to see in different ways. What a TREMENDOUS GUY...

And I reckon something BIG like that needs to happen to literature. Just as Hockney is doing with art, literature needs an equivalent genius to jolt it into a new era too. (ie, I mean really innovative stuff like Miller's 'Tropic of Cancer' or Garcia Marquez's 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'....)

Alas, I - being an insignificant incapable nobody (so far as literature is concerned) - can do nothing. Now, if I'd been brought-up in a way that caused tons more neural connections in my brain - had wealthy parents who spent half the year travelling the world, or some equivalent activity, as happens for kids of more astute members of the middle-class... almost all contemporary authors, artists, TV producers, etc., have this BIG advantage of a free open encouraging start in life, their first few years enriched with changing and stimulating environments, intriguing circumstances and events... There's always a few exceptions - I think Hockney is one, Alan Bennett too.... whose childhood, despite lack of wealth, contained those elements of variety and textural richness that stimulates the formation of synapses in the brain.... instead of the mundane, depleted environment that most of us are landed with.... so when we try to use our brains, it feels like it would physically for a scrawny undernourished kid trying hopelessly to hoist a set of train wheels above his head! At least I recognise my predicament, always have.... for what good that is, because I still don't quite accept it and frequently try to get around the problem (even though I'm a confirmed idler, and haven't a hope in HELL).

So someone out there who knows a bit about writing and has the quota of synapses: why don't they do for literature what Hockney is doing for art: come-up with a way to approach/present writing that's new and closer to life, that offers a deeper PERCEPTION on what's real, instead of the mush that seems to flood the bookshelves or kindle-pods these days, forcing people like me almost exclusively into the archives for anything worthwhile - like an art-lover searching through the Turners and Michelangelos, the Picassos and Renoirs and maybe the weird innovative indulgences of Hieronymus Bosch too, in the hope of unearthing something sensationally different, something previously unnoticed or new, instead of Warhol, Bacon, etc., or now above all David Hockney!  

---------------- // ------------------

OK. So failing my ability to unearth more than one or two minor works that are new or even recent in the realm of what might nowadays be regarded as GREAT LITERATURE, let's take a look at the archives... those gems I've stumbled on over the decades and found to be worth far more than the few pence I forked out for them:

The Books in My Life

To reflect that such a list can never be complete, till one pegs-out, is like acknowledging real wealth.